The Thorn Birds (1983) is a popular, award-winning mini-series based on the novel of the same title by w:Colleen McCullough. Set in Australia, it follows the lives of the Cleary family, and daughter Meggie's relationship with priest Ralph de Briccasart over the course of nearly sixty years.
- Ralph de Bricassart (to child Meggie): There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the price of great pain... or so says the legend...
- Meggie Cleary: That dear and gentle God who has taken from me everyone that I've loved most in the world. One by one. Frank, and Hal... and Stuey... and my father. And you, of course. Always you.
- [A fire nearly destroys the ranch, but is put out at the last minute by rain. Father Ralph and Meggie admire a rose that survived the fire.]
- Ralph de Bricassart:[God] spared the rose. He sent the rain.
- Meggie Cleary: Oh, Ralph. Who sent the fire?
- [Ralph de Bricassart's friend and colleague has been curious about what troubles Ralph, and has seen a rose fall from his Bible.]
- Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese: When your rose fell to the ground, I understood at last, the sadness you always wear like a holy mantle.
- Ralph de Bricassart: Oh Vittorio, I have tried so hard to get her out of my heart.
- Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese: You think I don't know that?
- Ralph de Bricassart: Then why?
- Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese': Ralph, our God has given us freewill. And with that freewill comes the burden of choice. It is time, far past time that you took up that burden, because until you do, you cannot go on.
- Richard Chamberlain - Ralph de Bricassart
- Rachel Ward - Meggie Cleary
- Christopher Plummer - Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese
- Barbara Stanwyck - Mary Carson
- Jean Simmons - Fiona (Fee) Cleary